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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Energy truths

February 17, 2014

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To the editor:

Calls for a “carbon tax” are misguided. If the goal is to reduce “carbon footprints,” then all products must be included. “Green energy” is not very green when the purchase/installation costs are barely paid for before expensive repair/replacement is needed. Manufacturing “green” products creates a carbon footprint that vastly outweighs the product’s carbon benefit.

Driven by ethanol mandates, marginal ground has been carved up to produce corn, increasing water pollution and destroying conservation habitat. Ethanol will only be slightly better than using gasoline in 2022, but the trade-offs in fertilizer use and fuel consumption will take 48 years to reach the break-even point in greenhouse gas emissions. Production of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars is not environmentally friendly. Factoring in the carbon cost of transmission facilities and production, “green energy” is not green at all. How do those costs in terms of carbon footprint stack up against coal, natural gas or petroleum?

And it’s been given special dispensation to damage and destroy the environment. Solar farms damage bird populations, and wind farms kill a good number of raptors with immunity. Where is the outcry from environmentalists? Silence. If an oil/gas company were causing the damage “the hue and cry” would be deafening. Just look at the Keystone Pipeline.

I, personal, like wind, solar and small-scale hydro, but I’m honest with myself about their real cost. How about the whole truth for once?

Comments

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Not at all clear that you understand how a carbon fee and dividend works. It is levied at the source, i.e. at the wellhead and the mine, so there is no leakage like there would be if the fee were levied at the end use point, which is what you seem to be complaining about. If a product uses a lot of fossil fuel during the manufacturing phase, then it pays for that in terms of paying higher prices for that fossil fuel, and there is also an incentive this way to reduce the amount of fossil fuel needed for manufacturing/distributing/marketing and using whatever widget you care to talk about. This is just as true for a "green" lithium battery as it is for a V8 SUV.

It is also true for ethanol; if it consumes as much energy to manufacture it as it produces when it is used, and that manufacturing uses lots of fossil fuels, then its price goes up and the incentive exists to reduce the amount of fossil fuel needed for manufacturing it. And the whole point of using renewables is that it DOES emit considerably less carbon than fossil fuels in electricity produced this way, even when you include the manufacturing and distribution processes. British Columbia has a fee and dividend program, and has already cut its carbon emissions 20% without taking a hit economically. In fact its economy is thriving, partially from all of the renewables jobs that have been created.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

...and despite 5% growth in population, which is above the Canadian average, carbon emissions continue to drop. I found the more detailed report, which goes thru 2010 and found that greenhouse gas emissions per unit of Gross Domestic Product decreased 25% from 2000-2010 and 6% between 2007-2010. For more information, check it out here: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cas/mitigation/ghg_inventory/pdf/pir-2010-full-report.pdf

Bart Johnson 9 months, 1 week ago

You know that AGW is made up when every single solution requires more government. Notice that no one ever suggests privatizing roads, which would lead more people to use public transit and car pool to save money on tolls, thus reducing carbon emissions. Such decreases in government power are NEVER put forward.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Um....are you suggesting that our entire road network be privatized? Name one country with decent roads where this has occurred and the network meets the needs of the populace. Plus you need good roads for decent public transit, which, I suspect would have some kind of public subsidy if it is going to meet the needs of the general public. But of course none of that is relevant to the fee and dividend idea anyway. That's because the fees are given straight back to the individual taxpayer, so they can spend that dividend any way they want. If they want to continue to shell out for the same level of weatherization, the same level of energy efficiency in their transportation, etc. then they can use those dividends to pay for higher costs. In practice, many folks use those dividends to finance more efficient heating and cooling in their homes, cars with better mileage, etc. so they can pocket the savings. I suppose folks could use those funds to privatize their roads if they wanted--fee and dividend leaves the choice to the recipient of the dividend.

Bart Johnson 9 months, 1 week ago

"Name one country with decent roads where this has occurred and the network meets the needs of the populace."

I love these kinds of replies. You seem to be under the assumption that if it was a good idea, then the government would obviously implement it. This is, of course, silly. Governments don't care about what is best for the people but what is best for themselves. Socialist highways mean that the government can hand out favors; why would they ever want to give that up?

Regardless, I don't think I have to prove that socialism doesn't work at this point in history when the evidence is so overwhelming.

" the fee and dividend idea "

How is this idea fit with ethical behavior? It seems completely evil and I cannot imagine why any moral person would support such evil.

Seth Peterson 9 months, 1 week ago

Thank god. No one suggests privatizing roads because that would be a terrible idea.

James Howlette 9 months, 1 week ago

And yet, somehow he thinks not implementing terrible ideas proves his point.

Bart Johnson 9 months, 1 week ago

" No one suggests privatizing roads because that would be a terrible idea."

Your opinion is noted. However, the facts prove you wrong. Every single case of privatization lead to lower prices and better service. When the facts challenge your ideology, your ideology needs to give way.

Chris Golledge 9 months, 1 week ago

It is not a choice between increased energy costs and no costs. It is a choice between increased energy costs and increased costs for food and infrastructure. Agricultural yields are known to be negatively impacted by temperatures above certain thresholds, and, obviously, shifting patterns for rain are not good either.

Amongst other studies, there was one from K-State recently which showed that winter wheat yields in Kansas are reduced 20% for every 1 C of global temperature increase, and we are looking at somewhere around a 2 C increase even if we start getting serious about mitigation today. In addition, the amount of the land that experiences heat waves like what devastated our agriculture in recent years has become more than 10 times more common.

Anyone notice a spike in copper and other construction materials after Katrina and Sandy? The most powerful storms have become more common; there is more energy in the weather system to power them.

In levelized costs, wind is already cheaper than coal. http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm (Which makes me why our governor precluded development of wind in practically all of the highest wind potenial area nearest our highest population areas.)

Some non-fossil fuel energy sources will not scale as well as others, and some will achieve economies of scale they do not currently enjoy. A carbon tax and dividend is better than energy regulations because it lets the market sort out a working solution rather than having one dictated by government. In that sense, we would not need regulations on car MPG or government incentives to grow corn for ethanol. If these kind of things make sense, the market will respond to the internalized cost of carbon and use them, if not, it won't.

Ron Holzwarth 9 months, 1 week ago

Many products that are billed as "green" or "environmentally friendly" are not what they are advertised to be. In many cases, those phrases are just a marketing gimmick.

Chris Golledge 9 months, 1 week ago

Aye, there is a lot of greenwashing going on, but that has nothing to do with a carbon tax and dividend.

Ron Holzwarth 9 months, 1 week ago

The use of ethanol as an additive or possible replacement for gasoline, electric cars, and wind farms were all mentioned in the letter to the editor, and that is what I was responding to. Solar farms might or might not also be included in that group with today's technology. I should have made more exacting statements in my comment. A discussion about whether or not those products are actually green or environmentally friendly could be written, but it would be very lengthy and not politically correct.

Those products appear to have a terrible environmental impact, but as a marketing gimmick, they are wildly successful. Plus, the tax subsidies that are collected by their manufacturers and also those given to the consumers or users of those products has a great benefit for some, at the expense of the rest of the population that has to pay for them with their taxes.

Chris Golledge 9 months, 1 week ago

Sure, I think I knew what you were trying to say, but going back to Ken Lassman's point, Ken Meyer seems to put a carbon tax in the same category as these fixes, some of which are superficial, and I don't think they really belong together.

I mean, yeah, if the energy used to charge your electric car comes from a coal plant, you have not really accomplished much. In general, it would be better to focus on the supply side rather than the consumer side because it is simpler and does indeed impact all products, which was one of Ken M's objections.

James Cooley 9 months, 1 week ago

I take exception to your including wind farms as having a terrible impact on the environment. I have submitted a longer letter rebutting some of Ken Meyer's claims, but will just point out here that wind energy has only about one five hundredth as large a carbon footprint as coal fire power plants when amortized over the life cycle of the installation. In addition, wind power does not produce heavy metal, acid rain, or aerosol pollution as does coal generated electricity. As for the effect on raptors, lead,mercury, arsenic, and particulate pollution from burning coal kills many more birds, including raptors, than do newer, properly sited wind turbines which have no roosting places and rotate at slower speeds than older turbines.

Richard Heckler 9 months, 1 week ago

The primary point being that in order to deal with global warming climate change substantially reduced consumption of fossil fuels must take place. The manufacturing of air pollution has to take a big hit. Acid rain is still NOT user friendly.

The world needs to accomplish a substantial reduction in global warming climate change ingredients. City driving is among the largest polluters of all. Therefore it makes sense to drive the most efficient vehicle any of us own. Yes most of these are smaller vehicles 4 cylinder types and/or hybrids however for around town they can work. And of course most in town folks can always devote some energy to walking and/or biking. In essence it will require a combination of such to help reduce.

What makes many options the opportunity to be labeled "green" is that these products do in fact require a much smaller foot print thus substantially less negative hits to the atmosphere aka planet.

Richard Heckler 9 months, 1 week ago

Union of Concerned Scientists says ... http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/

Global warming is happening now. The planet's temperature is rising. The trend is clear and unmistakable.

Every one of the past 37 years has been warmer than the 20th century average. The 12 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded for the contiguous United States.

Globally, the average surface temperature has increased more than one degree Fahrenheit since the late 1800s. Most of that increase has occurred over just the past three decades.

We are the cause. We are overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which traps heat and steadily drives up the planet’s temperature. Where does all this carbon come from? The fossil fuels we burn for energy — coal, natural gas, and oil — plus the loss of forests due to deforestation, especially in the tropics.

The scientific evidence is clear. Within the scientific community, there is no debate: An overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and that human activity is the primary cause.

This broad consensus — and the extensive scientific evidence that supports it — is often downplayed or distorted by a small but vocal minority of special interests that have a vested interest in delaying action on climate change.

We have a choice. We can act now to reduce our carbon emissions, slow the pace of global warming, and pass on a safer, healthier world to our children. Or we can choose to do nothing, continue pumping massive amounts of carbon into an already overloaded atmosphere, and suffer the increasingly costly consequences.

At UCS, we believe the choice is clear: We must take steps now to reduce our global warming emissions. http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/

Together we can tackle global warming. We have the practical solutions and technologies at hand to substantially reduce our emissions, create a clean energy economy, and establish the United States as a global leader in innovation.

To accomplish it, we must: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/

Demand action from our elected leaders

Take simple, practical steps to reduce our personal carbon emissions

Aggressively fight misinformation about global warming

Prepare our cities and communities for the growing impacts of climate change

Working together, we can do it — and you can help make it happen. Take action today!

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/

Scott Burkhart 9 months, 1 week ago

You have an opening line in here that is inaccurate. The planet's temperature is not rising. It hasn't risen since 1998. All of the websites that you cut and paste cannot explain why, scientifically. They can only offer opinions.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

It cannot be explained scientifically only if you cherry pick the heck out of it and ignore the overall trend, which is STILL upwards. And also ignore the fact that 93% of the excess heat goes into the oceans, not the atmosphere. Take your pick of OBSERVATIONS, not models:

In case you are going to claim that these are "bad science," Scott, you need to say why these OBSERVATIONS are incorrect. This is data, not interpretation of data.

Note that this World Meterorogical Association data indicates that there have been hotter years since 1998, which was an unusually warm El Nino year. Where do you think the temps will go when we have another El Nino year?

Scott Burkhart 9 months, 1 week ago

Oh, what have we here? Doctored OBSERVATIONS? I'd like to see the CarFax on this data. How do I know your data hasn't been in a wreck? Has it had regular maintenance? What kind of warranty are you offering with the purchase of your OBSERVATIONS?

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Oh, I forgot that you previously told us that you would not believe any data of any kind, no matter what it said--my bad, Scott. Science is not about warranties and certainties, but it is all about reproduceability and verifiability of what it measures and these charts have been through those processes. Even though these graphs were wasted on your eyes, I think others without such preconceived notions might be open to and benefit from seeing the state-of-the-art, verified, peer-reviewed, continuously cross checked, compiled and calibrated data.

Bob Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

If you want to depend on wind and solar energy, be prepared to shiver in your mud hut every winter.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Depends on what you mean by "depend." What I've seen are typically goals of 20% renewables by 2020, increasing gradually but steadily becoming the majority source for electricity by 2050 and beyond. If you think that is too fast of a pace, Iowa has at times already reached 20% at times, and I believe Texas has as well. As solar capacity is rolled out to join wind onto the grid, there is no reason not to expect that these goals can be met. That is why the Renewable Portfolio Standard is so important for out state--it works the same way as the CAFE standards does for automobile manufacturers. For more information on our state's goal of 20% by 2020, check out: http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=KS07R

Beator 9 months, 1 week ago

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System,

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data, the cost of building and operating a new solar thermal power plant over its lifetime is greater than generating natural gas, coal or nuclear power. It costs a conventional coal plant $100, on average, to produce a megawatt-hour of power, but that figure is $261 for solar thermal power, according to 2011 estimates. The figures do not account for incentives such as state or federal tax credits that can affect the cost.

Then there is Solyndra..what were the incentives to build that?

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

These figures also do not include the tremendous subsidies that are given to nuclear power plants, none of which would have ever been built without; or the fossil fuel subsidies, which ranges in the US alone anywhere from 14 to 52 billion dollars a year. For more information about that, check here: http://priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies/

And instead of spoon feeding, why don't you see if you can find out how many million federal Rural Utilities Services dollars had to be written off in the first phase of the Holcomb coal fired power plant in western Kansas? What were the incentives to build that???

Beator 9 months, 1 week ago

The figures do not account for incentives such as state or federal tax credits that can affect the cost.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Actually, those Wikipedia estimates have already dropped. I like to go to Lazarus's Levelized Cost of Energy, which is in its 7th version and available here: http://gallery.mailchimp.com/ce17780900c3d223633ecfa59/files/Lazard_Levelized_Cost_of_Energy_v7.0.1.pdf Here is the unsubsidized levelized cost of energy consumption estimates from that paper:

As you can see (if the chart is not too small--click on graph/go to website if it is) thermal solar is in the $125 to $164 range. Yes it is still more expensive than even other forms of solar, but the prices continue to come down. It is also important to note that this is the most expensive form of solar, and utility thin film and crystalline solar panels at utility scale are already cheaper than most new coal ($89 - 104 vs 64 - 145) and will be competitive with the cheapest coal by 2015 ($64-68 vs $65). Note that the new coal upper range of $145 includes carbon capture technologies, which are considered to be not commercially viable yet, and the coal numbers do not include transportation and storage costs for the coal.

What of course is also very interesting is everything else on the chart. Note that SAVING energy (i.e. energy efficiency) investments are still the cheapest and most effective strategy ($0 - 50) and wind turbines (not offshore) are already cheaper than new coal in most situations ($45 - 95). Note also that conventional natural gas peaking plants (used only during peak summer loads) and diesel power plants are way more expensive than even solar thermal.

Jan Freed 9 months, 1 week ago

The myth of cheap coal energy: Taxpayers are on the hook for $300-$500 billion dollars/year from over 70 negative impacts of coal (Harvard School of Medicine study). PER YEAR. It is a hidden tax that we pay, not the coal company. Somehow that doesn't bother the Solyndra hysterics. It is a subsidy we have not voted for, and fits the definition of tyranny.

So, we the people need to charge carbon industries a carbon dumping fee and receive these fees as compensation. This would also reduce emissions, which any sane person would see as most likely a very good idea. It is not prudent to risk the one planet known to contain life, says the American Association of Meteorologists, and I agree.

James Cooley 9 months, 1 week ago

The $100/ megawatt-hour does not include the externalized costs (born by everyone) of the air and water pollution produced by coal fired plants, nor does it include the costs of coal mining and coal ash disposal and the costs associated with increased global warming and resulting super storms. If these costs were factored into utility rates, electricity production from fossil fuels would come in a poor second to solar and wind production.

Bob Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

"...The carbon-trading schemes enacted with such fanfare just a few years ago have effectively ceased to operate amid collapsing prices. The sustainable-energy craze produced the expensive bankruptcies of solar-panel maker Solyndra, Fisker Automotive and battery maker A123 Systems, to name a few. Germany, which has taken its climate-change fetish further than any other major economy, is now coming to grips with a comprehensive fiasco of higher energy prices and higher carbon emissions. Who would have thought that when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow, people might still want to switch on the lights?

It is now the dogma of the left that any hint of doubt when it comes to predictions of climate doom is evidence of greed, stupidity, moral turpitude or psychological derangement. "Climate denial" is intended to be the equivalent of Holocaust denial. And yet the only people who've predicted anything right so far are those who foresaw that the Kyoto Protocol would fail, that renewable energies didn't really work, and that climate bureaucrats accountable to nobody but their own sense of virtue and taste for profit were a danger to everyone...." http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304675504579389492229581738

You may notice that the text in this link was posted only yesterday. I will not be posting this same text and link dozens of times on this award-winning website.

Gerald Kerr 9 months, 1 week ago

Ken Meyer, Is it, do you think, a good idea to raise taxes and energy/food costs on strapped citizens in order to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Do you think the government will use the funds responsibly? Do you believe that Catastrophic Man caused global warming (CAGW) is a real problem? Do you believe CO2 is a critical driver of global temperature? Is it possible that the issue is manufactured by bureaucracies to confiscate more money for bankrupt governments?

Chris Golledge 9 months, 1 week ago

Gerald, are you familiar with the term Gish Gallop? http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop Please review the history of climate change science and tell us where you think they started to get things wrong. http://www.aip.org/history/climate/timeline.htm

Gerald Kerr 9 months, 1 week ago

 Chris, climate is doing what it always does its changing. We are currently in the Holocene interglacial which followed the last great Glacial (ice age) Maximum of some 22,000 years ago.  Since the interglacial warming peak 5500 BC,  several additional periods of cooling and warming have occurred:  Minoan Warm Period (3500 yrs.ago), Roman Warm Period (1600 yrs.ago), Medieval (1250-750 yrs.ago).  Following the latter, earth experienced a period of cooling known as Little Ice Age.  Since the 'Little Ice Age' (1500-1850 A.D.), we have been overall warming.

According to IPCC's own assertions Anthropogenic CO2 emissions were minimal in 1850 and did not become potentially significant till 1940 or 1950. According to Met Office's own data for past 163 years earths temps. didn't warm in 1950's or 60's. It was not until 1975 that temperatures began to rise. However, even Phil Jones acknowledges that there is no significant difference in his accepted global temperature warming rates in the intervals 1860-1880, 1910-1940, and 1975-1998! His words, "...the 1860-1880 period is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically different...the trend over the period 1975 to 2009 ..has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998."

The upshot is, Chris, Anthropogenic CO2 forcing is not a de facto player in anything but the imaginations of cheerleaders for carbon credit taxes and recipients of government grants.

President Dwight Eisenhower, a great Kansan, was a prophet like few who have run their course in public service. From his farewell address to the nation:

"...Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nations scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present- and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite...."

The free university is no longer free. The people are no longer free. Eisenhower's prophecy has come to pass. Truth has been purchased. Tail wags dog. Dog wags tail. Science sold to the highest bidder by technological/scientific and political elites. Open your eyes folks, the road to serfdom is a killer.

Chris Golledge 9 months, 1 week ago

Oh, so, your Gish Gallop has been challenged, and you are responding with the tl;dr. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop#Argumentum_ad_tl.3Bdr

So, Gerald, tell us what exactly you know about atmospheric physics that disproves the understanding built over the last 200 years?

Chris Golledge 9 months, 1 week ago

Here Gerald, maybe this will help you put things into perspective. http://woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/plot/esrl-co2/normalise/plot/pmod/scale:0.2/offset:-273.6/plot/gistemp/from:1995/trend/plot/pmod/scale:0.2/offset:-273.6/trend/plot/gistemp/mean:131

The US Air Force developed and uses MODTRAN and HITRAN for modeling atmospheric radiative energy transfer. Here is a short presentation where the output of MODTRAN is used to show warming caused by CO2. http://mensch.org/5223/RadForce_print.pdf

What is it you think you know about atmospheric physics that the Air Force has gotten wrong? How do you think they know how to make heat seeking missiles?

Gerald Kerr 9 months, 1 week ago

Chris, some don't see the forrest for the trees. Before constructing heat seeking missiles, pursuing Gish, dropping sexy names such as MODTRAN and HITRAN one should see if the data supports singular unnatural rates of global warming above past patterns of increase. That should be the case if CAGW is to be seriously considered. That is not the case Chris. There is no pattern of global warming, even using teased and tortured data, which is beyond natural expectations coming out of the Little Ice Age that ended about 1850 AD.

Chris, the data isn't there to support the man induced CO2 forcing model as significant driver of global temperature. The hockey stick was bum science and is broken to pieces. You site acronyms that would dizzy a Manichee but there is no sound evidence for CAGW and there never has been.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Gerald, Even if you accept the notion that global atmospheric temps are not going up (and I certainly agree with the hundreds of climatologists and thousands of comments that went into the IPCC Working Group 1 report released last September that it is most certainly is going up), how do you account for the fact that ocean heat is storing vastly more energy, as 93% of global heating is going into the oceans? Or that the ice masses on Antarctica and Greenland and glaciers are shrinking? Or that species are shifting poleward due to a shift in habitat? Or that the oceans are becoming more acidic due to the increased amounts of CO2 being absorbed? Or that the arctic sea ice extent and thickness are shrinking even if you take annual fluctuations into account?

In other words, Gerald, the data IS there to support CO2 forcing, along with other greenhouse gases, all of which are being emitted by human activities at a rate that is faster than the planet's natural systems can absorb it. All of your objections have been adequately studied and rejected as not being adequate to explain the data that is coming in from all corners, and the evidence is getting clearer, not fuzzier, as time passes.

Gerald Kerr 9 months, 1 week ago

Yes, of course temps are going up a bit since we are coming out of our last cool period known as the little ice age which ended about 1850. There is no scientific evidence to support man liberated CO2 as significant forcing agent over and above the other natural drivers of climate heating and cooling. There is no scientific evidence that natural CO2 plays a significant role in forcing temperature change as evidence strongly suggests CO2 levels follow rather than lead earths past temperature peaks. Further, temperature was much higher 8-11k years ago at the peak of the holocene interglacial warming period. Over the long term earths temperature has been going down since then with sequentially lower peak warming periods, e.g., Minoan Warm Period (3500 yrs.ago), Roman Warm Period (1600 yrs.ago), Medieval Warm Period (1250-750 yrs.ago). There is no substantial scientific evidence to suggest CO2 concentration drove these ever lessening warming periods. In fact CO2 levels appear to have been at times 10 fold the current concentration with similar temperatures as today. Finally, scores of CO2 forcing models have been proposed by various groups and all have failed. Monumentally failed. Always by vastly over estimating future temperature.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Once again, you make assertions with nothing to back you up. I have provided you with numerous articles and websites that provide you with datasets that have been carefully vetted, analyzed using solid statistically valid procedures, and peer-reviewed conclusions. They come up with the exact opposite conclusions from what you have been coming up with, so I would assume you would be eager to explain exactly where this data, these statistical analyses and these conclusions have gone wrong. But I'm perplexed that instead of doing this, you have ignored them and have not come up with any reason I can see to believe that anything you have asserted is anything more than your personal opinion or that you are just paraphrasing the opinions you find in secondary sources without enough understanding to really dig into the meat of the issues. I await evidence to the contrary, i.e. that you are actually reading the sources I've provided you throughout these comments and coming up with some well reasoned critiques that are actually backed up with some some real data/analyses/conclusions that are up to the standard of the scientific community.

For instance, I have provided you with analyses that clearly show that both the volume of geologically sequestered carbon released into the atmosphere since the beginning of industrialization is more than adequate to be the driving force behind climate change, and furthermore, it is the ONLY thing that can explain the observations, since the calculated (and well understood) impacts of volcanism, solar cycles, orbital characteristics, cosmic rays and other natural influences are inadequate to account for the observed rises. I have also given you an article from Science that explains precisely how CO2 is like the thermostat that drives the other feedback loops etc. that results in warming, and yet instead of critiquing this article, you just say there is no evidence.

So I must conclude, at this point, that you have no real evidence and have no real critique of the sources that I have provided you. So be it.

James Howlette 9 months, 1 week ago

"Chris, some don't see the forrest for the trees." Indeed. Please tell us more about the trees you don't think should be included in the forrest, Gerald.

Gerald Kerr 9 months, 1 week ago

Ken, global temperature has flat lined for a decade or more at a time in which CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have been increasing rapidly. According to CO2 information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy, and "The Economist" the world added 100 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere in decade 2000-2010 which amounted to roughly 25% of all humanity produced carbon since 1750AD. And yet as noted by Dr. James Hansen head of NASA's GISS, "...the five year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade." In fact, Ken, for GISS the slope is flat from July 2001, for Hadcrut3 flat since 1997 (16yrs.6mo.), Hadcrut4 flat since December 2000, Hadsst3 flat since December 2000, UAH flat since Oct. 2004, RSS flat since September 1996. Thus while humanity released CO2 is rising rapidly and higher than it has ever been earths mean temperature is in a 9 to 17 year pause.

As noted several postings above, as corroborated by the notorious Phil Jones of East Anglia, the only period of warming that could be significantly contributed to by humanity freed CO2 is 1975-1998 which is "similar and not statistically different from" the periods 1860-1880 and 1910-1940 when there is no evidence of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. What to make of this?

CAGW may have not yet begun or Earth's sensitivity to CO2 may be quite low, or other natural forces (sun, clouds, EM radiation, dust, tides, planetary orbital wobble, others) may far outweigh man's contribution to CO2 production.

It is increasingly clear that ruinous taxes and assessments to fund the coffers of irresponsible, spendthrift and virtually bankrupt political and scientific bureaucracies is a fools errand.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

You have done what in academic circles, is called "cherry picking," i.e. taking short strips of variation in the data and elevated those from fluctuations to trends. As the graph I provided for Scott above shows, there is no such thing as a "flat line" and even the so-called "flat line" label belies the fact that 1998 was a very warm El Nino year that was way above the adjacent years and despite that there have been 2 years warmer than 1998.

I could go on and go into more depth about that little cherry pick you would like for us to focus on, but first, I'd like to point out that you have still not answered the larger picture of all of the other kinds of data that are unambiguously showing that our planet is warming up, specifically ocean heat (both 0-700meters deep and the 700-200 meters deep--see graph in Scott response above), antarctic and greenland ice sheet mass shrinking, poleward shift of ecoregions and fish schools, glacial mass, increasing humidity levels caused by warmer air temps, increasing percentage of extreme weather events and shifting temperature norms on land, rising sea level, and the list goes on. In other words, there are many, many ways for the earth to respond to increasing heat caused by that well documented increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There is no indication that the denialist claim that CO2 sensitivity is significantly less that the considerable research has indicated it to be, and all of these other indicators are a clear signal that the planet is indeed continuing to warm and will continue to do so.

Gerald Kerr 9 months, 1 week ago

Talk about cherry picking, Ken. Warmista's have controlled data collection, embargoed the raw data for years, extrapolated it, interpolated it, tweaked it, massaged it lovingly, and created models that predicted strong CO2 forcing. The models and data have failed repeatedly. New models were employed- also failed. Goal post moving has become an art form by the alarmists.

Ken, remember when the IPCC at its inception claimed the foundational notion that there was a proven causal correlation between global CO2 and strong forcing of mean earth temperature. When in 1999 a peer reviewed paper refuted the 'proven' correlation IPCC fought the evidence till 2003 when IPCC conceded the foundational assertion. Al Gore who at the time of his movie (2005) was highly invested in the cap and trade board of exchange and would have been 100 fold enriched by the scheme repeated the clearly debunked deception on CO2. Drums beat. Bands marched. Greedy bureaucrats and highly paid climate experts, hucksters really, trumpeted the notion of 97% consensus for the already slain meme. That figure has likewise been shown to be false by a factor of 10 to 150.

The very foundation of CAGW alarmist theory is dead. Ocean buffered heat sink lag variation or some such is the latest goal post location.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Gerald, Who has done what to the data? Do you want the raw, unprocessed data? Do you want the processed data? Do you want the code? OK: here it is: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/ This is the same sets of data and assumptions that the big boys use, and you can spend weeks looking over those assumptions if you want--these are probably the most transparent datasets available in science. Please be specific when you claim that these publicly available datasets are "controlled" and "embargoed," because that is a serious charge that is clearly not true if I can give them to you. And please don't once again drag out the old East Anglia charges, which have repeatedly been shown to not have biased the dataset at all, although the HADCRUT dataset does have significant gaps in the polar data that actually downplays the degree of climate change since the most extreme changes are occurring in the polar regions.

The models are changing, agreed. That's the whole point: you run backcasting to see if your model's assumptions accurately match observed data, you look at new incoming data and incorporate those new data, you improve the "resolution" of the model, swapping out the size of the "pixels" of data points in order to get more precise results, you run the model multiple times with different assumptions, incorporating new empirical analyses of atmospheric dynamics, etc. This is different than moving goal posts, it's called scientific progress.

And I have no idea what you're talking about how "a peer reviewed paper refuted" the causal connection back in 1999--references please. If there may have been some doubt back in 1999, that doubt has certainly been cleared up in the intervening 15 years of science, for the latest IPCC report concludes that there is a "very high certainty" that CO2 in the atmosphere is a potent "radiative forcing" molecule that very much is a driver of climate change. Check out p. 12 of the Executive Summary of the Working Group 1 AR4 IPCC report: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/docs/WGIAR5_SPM_brochure_en.pdf

So denialism will probably whimper along, like the cadre of folks who still don't believe in the link between smoking and lung cancer, or that the earth is a sphere, but the rest of us are moving along to addressing the next set of questions that come after the acceptance that human activity has changed our climate and it will get considerably worse if we don't change the way we are doing things on this lovely planet of ours. At least this letter writer has moved along to some interesting options, and I for one think it's important to discuss those options in a public venue. So thanks for providing the opportunity to educate folks about the issue of climate change so they can grasp the importance of the issue and we can move forward towards doing something about it.

Gerald Kerr 9 months, 1 week ago

Ken, your side claiming CAGW has been discredited. The people in nearly all countries are on to the flawed science and money grab. There is zero data to support CAGW. Check the public opinion polls. Check the repackaging of the debate to Climate Change from Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. Why? Because the data simply does not support CAGW.

Also, it is true some raw data, some code has been made available but only after years and years of badgering and lawsuits to get what wasn't mysteriously lost, damaged or misplaced.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Your charges are serious, but you completely fail to back them up. I have given you ample observationally based datasets that unambiguously backs up the conclusion that humans are emitting vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, which overwhelms the capacity to reabsorb all of it, and the resulting increase in atmospheric carbon is unambiguously driving an increase in global temps, raising sea levels, increasing humidity, triggering more extreme weather, acidifying our oceans, melting ice caps and sea ice, shifting animal habitats polewards, etc.

Your little word "catastrophic" is undefined by you, but you can't hide behind it. I have defined it in earlier unanswered comments to you that yes, folks like James Lovelock have gone way beyond the scientific community (actually only temporarily as he later recanted it) and said extreme predictions like the tropics would become uninhabitable and agriculture would have to shift to the arctic regions by 2100, but the much less dramatic predictions by the scientific community are certainly catastrophic enough. I repeat that those "catastrophic" predictions supported by the evidence include around a 1 meter rise in the sea and the economic/political consequences of large scale displacement that will bring, a huge hit in habitat and biodiversity, increasing weather extremes, and the like will certainly be catastrophic enough. If you are implying that the data doesn't support that, then the onus of responsibility to explain why is in your lap because you certainly have not shown otherwise.

And the raw data and code that I provided you was released years ago without any lawsuits and has been publicly available for free for years. The Real Climate folks just collected them from various websites where you could download them for free for years before they did that, just for the public's convenience, and that was compiled in 2009 and has been kept up ever since.

Gerald Kerr 9 months, 1 week ago

Ken, you are badly mistaken. You have given zero datasets and their deduced models which have shown any evidence that the warming we are currently enjoying is a result of human liberated CO2. You have given zero scientific evidence that CO2 drives climate temperature on earth rather than follows climate temperature. You have given zero evidence that the current cooling we suffer is merely statistical noise and unrelated to powerful natural drivers like (of all things) the suns energy output, tidal mixes, cloud formation, etc.. Your confidence seems faith driven. A belief driven by some P.C. orthodoxy which seems to have enslaved reason.

Now please listen. In the distant past CO2 levels have been 10 times the current levels and temperatures were little different than today. On the face of that fact, unless one is blinded by religious zealotry, one must logically conclude that CO2 is not a great driver of earth's temperature. Further, to the best of our current knowledge, CO2 levels follow warming and do not precede it, again thus making CO2 a non-driver of the warming. Even Al Gore knew this fact and was embarrassed enough by it to show the two graphs of CO2 and temperature separated from one another enough to hide which followed which.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Then what exactly would you consider to be proof? What kind of data would it take and what exactly would that data have to show for you to be convinced that 1) CO2 liberated by human activity is warming the earth, 2) CO2 drives climate temperature changes instead of vice versa, and 3) that the current "plateau" is not within the range of normal variation? Please be specific, because there is ample evidence for all three that are verifiable, reproduceable and empirical and do not depend on faith, but I'm not going to waste my time trying to explain them to you unless you show me that you have a credible threshold for changing your mind about these things if you see the evidence. Robert Muller is an example of a scientist who was a prominent denialist who decided to collect his own data and do his own analysis and once he did that, he changed his mind and decided that the data supports the human-generated warming that is caused by CO2. In other words, he showed the capacity to change his conclusion, like any good scientist, when the data was compelling enough.

So I await to see your response and then we can see if we can continue to explore the facts. If all you want to do is post opinions, you are entitled to do just that, but don't accuse me of just spouting my opinion as a matter of faith. I have the facts to back me up.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Upon further reflection, even though the massive datasets that I referred to from the Realclimate website above do indeed scientifically articulate every point that you claim that they don't, the sheer volume of the datasets and model complexities in this level of science is probably hard for you to sort out these conclusions without quite a bit of scientific background. As an alternative, I offer you the following articles that explains the science much more concisely than the raw and processed datasets and models for your convenience. Please let me know if you have reservations on either their methodology, their data or their conclusions, and if so, please try to go beyond opinions and be specific. For the issue of whether CO2 drives climate temperature or whether temperature drives CO2, I offer the following article from the journal Science: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2010/2010_Lacis_etal_1.pdf

I refer to you again the piece I already referred to as to the complexities of the global temperature variations vs global temperature trends: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/02/going-with-the-wind/#more-16861

And finally regarding why the CO2 was so high in the past and didn't rise climate temps, I refer you to either the basic or intermediate explanations here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-higher-in-past.htm I await your review of these papers/explanations and see if this is easier for you to address.

James Cooley 9 months, 1 week ago

It is also believed that the large amount of aerosols and particulates emitted by the rapid increase in the number of Chinese and Indian coal fired power plants has blocked much of the sunlight that would have otherwise reached earth over the last two decades. This short term reprieve will come at a high cost later as the Chinese and Indians clean up their energy production, leaving the CO2 in the atmosphere for several hundred years.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

Great point, Jim. I think you might find the following analysis of the increased Pacific trade winds as playing into the pause-before-the-jump scenario that could be unfolding as well: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/02/going-with-the-wind/#more-16861

Ron Holzwarth 9 months, 1 week ago

Maybe the global warming debate should be settled via experimentation. That is, do nothing and then evaluate the situation in 100 years.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

We've already done that experiment: nothing was done, i.e. carbon emissions have gone up continuously between 1914 and 2014 (actually longer than that) and significant warming has occurred. It's time to end that experiment and start the next experiment: stop increasing carbon emissions, peaking as soon as we can possibly do it, then reducing it as quickly as we can and see what happens in the next hundred years.

Grégoire Guillaume 9 months, 1 week ago

You always have the people who look ahead and those that bury their head in the sand. Those who do not want to address the problem of unsustainable energy production only have to look to 'Easter Island' to see what comes from a lack of vision.

Gerald Kerr 9 months, 1 week ago

We are all interested in cheaper and sustainable energy source development. Most are not interested in government and their cronies feasting on the wage slaves of the middle class by doing to affordable energy production what they have done to health care. The bigs get richer, the pols and experts get richer, the government grows its bureaucracy and the middle class gets screwed.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

This, of course, has nothing at all to do with the carbon fee and dividend proposal, that levies a fee on the sources of atmospheric emissions, i.e. at the wellheads and mines where the fossil fuels are being extracted, then those collected fees are returned DIRECTLY to the taxpayer via already set up mechanisms (i.e. IRS). Can that dividend be used to just pay for higher fuel bills? You bet. Can you use it to buy weatherization for your house and buy a more efficient car? You bet. In places like British Columbia where they have had a carbon fee and dividend program, folks have been doing more of the latter than the former and carbon emissions are dropping significantly AND the economy is growing. It's time we try such a market based solution here.

Gerald Kerr 9 months, 1 week ago

Solution to what problem? How does funnelling more money to IRS currently under 22 separate investigations for punishing perceived enemies of the current administration help our energy, economic, and governance problems? A nation that does not trust its own leaders and views government as the problem not the solution, is a nation in deep trouble. America is in deep trouble. Polling from all political spectra shows near collapse of trust in federal government leaders in legislature and Administration and their bureaucrats. The mistrust is well deserved.

Ken Lassman 9 months, 1 week ago

You apparently were not listening. The carbon fee is transferred directly to the taxpayer via the IRS in order to reduce carbon emissions in our country, not to address perceived executive excesses and leadership issues. This is not dependent or connected to who is in the whitehouse; indeed many republicans have shown interest in a carbon fee and dividend program by virtue of it being largely marketplace driven as it gives a predictable, gradual economic signal that the marketplace innovations can anticipate. I'm sorry the fee and dividend does not cure all ills, including your issues with the current administration, but it was never meant to address those issues you bring up, nor can it.

James Cooley 9 months, 1 week ago

When we, as a society, decided that dumping raw sewage into our rivers was an unacceptable practice because we all live downstream, we required cities to treat their effluent at public expense. This treatment added to the tax burden, but it has also saved billions of dollars in health care costs and saved millions of lives. When we make the same determination about our atmosphere not being a raw sewage dump for fossil fuel generated electricity, we will certainly be paying more for our centrally generated electricity, but we will also reap similar benefits.

James Cooley 9 months, 1 week ago

Easter Islanders had one advantage that we don't have, they could leave and move to another island where they could start over; hopefully applying what they learned from their mistakes.

Richard Heckler 9 months, 1 week ago

150 earth quakes in Oklahoma in the past week - can we say Fracking?

The US Geological Survey found that from 1975 to 2008, central Oklahoma experienced one to three 3.0-magnitude earthquakes a year, compared with an average of forty per year from 2009 to 2013.

And it looks like that number is going to get bigger. It’s only February, and the state has already logged more than twenty-five quakes of 3.0-magnitude or larger this year, and more than 150 total quakes in the past week alone.

http://www.thenation.com/blog/178449/whats-causing-huge-spike-earthquakes-oklahoma

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